Some people are born just failures

Dealing with defeats in sports - this is how you overcome them!

Dealing with defeats in sport is not always easy, especially for amateur athletes. On the one hand, this is certainly due to the fact that mistakes are not wanted in our society and are usually avoided or at least downplayed. On the other hand, we only have to take a quick look at the media and see perfect people and especially perfect superstars.

However, top athletes in particular learn relatively early that defeat is part of their job.

They also learn how they can best use defeats in sport for themselves.

As outside viewers, however, we mostly only perceive the successes and all too quickly overlook the setbacks.

Michael Jordan - one of the most successful basketball players of all time - has lost almost 300 games in his career and missed more than 9,000 throws on the basket.

Of course, very few professionals peddle their negative balance sheet.

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Dealing with defeat

But unlike us, they learn to deal confidently with setbacks, which is absolutely necessary.

Because mistakes and failures are the driving force of progress worldwide and have been with us from an early age.

The simplest example are young children who are slowly but surely learning to walk.

If you have children of your own, or if you have been able to watch family and friends how children successfully get up on their feet, you may know what I am talking about.

Very few children get up and start walking without a mistake!

Quite the opposite: They fall over and over again, often hurting each other and end up back where they started.

But the overwhelming majority cannot be deterred and instinctively keep an eye on the goal.

This actually shows that we are born to overcome defeats in sport and in the rest of life.

Failures get worse

But for many of us it doesn't stay that way for long.

As we get older and try more than just to walk, we quickly learn which behavior is desirable and which is not.

Depending on the environment in which we grow up, we learn a positive or negative relationship to mistakes.

It usually begins with the reaction of those around us to things that we do or fail to do.

If we are confronted with a negative reaction from the parents, we learn that we absolutely have to avoid wrongdoing or at least cover it up.

With this we perceive mistakes as something bad, from which we cannot learn anything new.

This behavior then usually encourages us for a lifetime to move within the known limits of socially (or even only in our own family) recognized behavior.

Any "experiments" are avoided, as otherwise the risk of negative feedback would be far too great.

But failure brings you forward!

However, these "experiments" bring us into situations that we did not know before.

And by that I don't mean the negative reactions you may be used to.

For example, it is about a new experience of success, the experience of strength or the unexpected feeling of joy.

For aspiring triathletes, for example, this can be the first swimming session in open water.

Or for a soccer player the first match in front of a large audience.

After the initial excitement, you gradually feel better.

Once you have achieved your goal, the joy and pride of having mastered a challenge usually outweigh the problems.

However, such "experiments" can also go wrong.

For example, you suddenly panic while swimming in the middle of the lake or spectators are not very friendly towards you than expected.

Leaving the comfort zone is always associated with risk

Then you have left your comfort zone and have not been able to achieve your goal.

A point that has preoccupied many of us - and maybe you too - for a long time and has a negative impact.

Failure is also an opportunity for you, because you can analyze the situation you experienced or the mistake you made.

Defeats in sport reflect where you are at the moment.

They show you where your weaknesses are and offer you the opportunity to avoid them in the future.

Let's stick with open water swimming, for example, which didn't work the first time.

Did you swim too fast too fast and didn't get enough air as a result?

Or is swimming bothering you and you have to train further?

No matter what it is. You can improve it and thereby become even stronger or even better.

However, a few basic steps are necessary for this, all of which contribute to making you mentally stronger.

Dealing with defeat in sports

In order to deal with setbacks and defeats, you need a strategy.

This strategy consists of different steps that you should go through gradually.

If you currently have problems leaving defeats in sport behind you, you should always take these steps very consciously in the near future.

The first step is acceptance

With the first step, some people reach their limits.

Because all too often there are enough external factors that caused the failure.

When swimming, the water was too cold (and of course too wet), the distance too long and the day the wrong day anyway to complete such a unit.

However, if you, as an outsider, look objectively at the situation, the real reason usually becomes clear relatively quickly.

It wasn't the water or the day, it was wrong preparation and a suboptimal approach.

Accepting and embracing that is the most important step in dealing with failure.

If you look for the causes of your failure in other things or people, it will be difficult for you to change something.

So accept that you did not achieve your goal and consider the possibility that you did not achieve something optimally.

The second step is the analysis

You should start this step as soon as possible after the defeat, because you need the best possible memory of what happened.

Try to do this step in writing and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What went well
  • What went wrong
  • What were the factors behind the failure?
  • What can you learn from it?
  • What can you do better next time?

You should stay as objective and positive as possible and not sink into self-doubt and self-criticism.

Do this task soberly.

If it is easier for you, you can also look at yourself and the situation in question from the perspective of an outsider.

Step number three: check off

Dealing with defeats in sport also consists of ticking off the defeat you have experienced.

This is now in the past and can no longer be changed either way.

After the analysis, you have extracted all the important information from the setback and you no longer need it.

That sounds strange, but you have made everything positive from this event usable for you.

If you continue to dwell on it, the defeat takes up too much space in the present, costs you strength and may continue to block you.

Focus on the future and improve yourself.

Fourth, work on your weaknesses

Once you have ticked off the sporting defeat, you can get down to work with your analysis.

You now know why you did not achieve your goal and you can deal with the individual points.

Under these points there will possibly be things over which you have no control.

But there will certainly be some factors that you can directly - or indirectly - influence.

So take the points you want to work on and focus on them during training.

For example, if you can't swim well enough, you should take a crawl course, for example, or improve your swimming technique bit by bit on your own.

Or were you not mentally strong enough and therefore simply unsafe in open water?

Then you should focus more on building and improving your mental strength.

Important skills in dealing with defeat in sport are in any case self-criticism and the will to improve.

These are possibly two points that you can work on first - and that's completely okay.

Not all of us were taught to deal with mistakes openly and positively in childhood.

However, to acquire these in retrospect is a big step.

Dealing with defeats in sport - conclusion

However, the above steps should not hide an important aspect.

After a defeat in sport, we are all disappointed at first.

We are angry, sad, and maybe even discouraged or desperate.

This is completely normal and varies in severity depending on the situation.

As an athlete with more or less big goals, however, it is important not to remain in this state.

Example superstar

Kobe Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a game in the NBA at the age of 34, which would have meant the end of a career for most basketball players - or athletes in general.

This fact became clear to him in the subsequent press conference when the reporters asked him about it. You could literally see how difficult it was for him to look positively into the future.

That night, Bryant let his anger and disappointment run free in a Facebook post.

But the next morning he had accepted reality and set himself the goal of overcoming the injury and getting back on the field.

Dealing with defeat - this is how you overcome it

So you see, even the very big ones are no different from us.

They are just as disappointed, angry and maybe discouraged at first.

But they have learned that defeat in sport is part of it and they also know that you can step out of them.

They accept defeat, they analyze the circumstances that led to it, and then they just tick off the failure.

They then very quickly set about developing strategies to avoid the mistakes made in the future or to recover from their effects.

Of course, this is not so easy with an injury.

But it might have been possible to avoid this through targeted strength training.

Or maybe it was triggered or promoted by an irresponsible overload.

And every athlete can control these factors for himself.

By the way, you can also use visualization to avoid defeat from the start.

By the way, you can find books on the subject of "Mental Strength" in this article.


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Note: All of our recommendations have been carefully selected, developed and checked. They are aimed at healthy adults who have no (previous) illnesses. None of our articles can or should be a substitute for competent medical advice. Before you start training, please consult a doctor and get a check-up.